The Profit In Inconvenience: Why 300 People Said No to $700


Fellow Riskologist,

Hello from 39,000 feet over the Atlantic on my way to Argentina. I’m headed to Buenos Aires to run a marathon this weekend.

All this sitting around in a plane has me thinking, and I want to ask you a question…

Say you find an ad I posted on Craigslist for a guitar. You decide to buy it, but when you show up to collect it, you find that I’m actually selling a lot of guitars, and a lot of people are at my house trying to pick up theirs.

When it’s your turn, I politely ask if I can give yours to someone else. But don’t worry, I’ll have yours in just three hours. If you can wait, I’ll also give you $700 and free dinner.

Would you take it?

Seems like a no-brainer to me, but the reality of most people’s decisions when actually faced with such a proposal might be shocking. Most people say no. Read on to find out why.

300 People Say No to $700

This is—essentially—the question asked of more than 300 people just yesterday—as I watched—and they all refused.

I was sitting at the boarding gate—D Terminal at ATL. Delta had oversold my flight, and they were desperately searching for just two people to voluntarily give up their seats and leave on a flight three hours later.

First they offered $500. Nobody took it. Then they offered $600. Nobody took it.

Thinking it a pretty good deal, I moseyed up to the ticketing counter. I figured since no one else was biting, I’d offer my ticket for $700, and see if they’d take it, ready to happily accept the $600.

As soon as I mentioned I was interested in volunteering my ticket, they told me the compensation was $700 and a free dinner voucher.

Wow! I didn’t even have to ask for it, and they threw in dinner. I must really be an expert negotiator!

Just like that, the deal was done, and I was $700 richer. In exchange, all I had to do was sit around and enjoy myself for three hours. I could work on a project on my laptop. Or I could interview travelers about their trips as they walked by. I could do ANYTHING I WANTED. Delta was prepared to pay me $233/hour to do cartwheels down the concourse if I so desired.

And up until the last minutes before departure, I was still the only volunteer, and they were scrambling to find another. How is it that I’m the only one who recognized the amazing deal this was?

If You Value Convenience Above All, You’ll Be Poor

The answer, of course, is  most people greatly overvalue inconvenience. Everybody’s so caught up in the idea that life should always be simple, convenient, and work out exactly as they expect it to that they turn their nose up at a fire hose of opportunity shooting directly at their face.

In this case, that fire hose was shooting straight cash money! Dollar dollar bills, ya’ll!

Sure, some people we’re traveling with their families and couldn’t take advantage. Others, perhaps, had connections they needed to catch that $700 couldn’t fix.

But I’d wager—conservatively— at least 30% of the folks getting on that plane definitely had nothing better to do than earn $700 enjoying themselves.

The topic of conversation these days is all about how we undervalue our time. We should be outsourcing things in our lives and rushing from one place to the next and never doing anything that takes our precious time away from what’s important to us. The truth is, many people overvalue their time and convenience.

This is the reason so many people earning so much still struggle to make ends meet and are horrible with money. This is why some never have the resources to do what they really want, and every day is “just getting by” even while they bask in a lifestyle never before enjoyed by humankind.

They suffer from the curse of convenience.

Those that suffer from this devastating disease have been lead to believe anything that makes their life easier is worth paying for—regardless the cost—because, ya know, you only live once, so best to make sure every second is treasured. Even if treasuring your seconds means sitting on a plane instead of doing gymnastics in an airport with all your free time.

Personally, gymnastics in an airport sounds pretty YOLO to me.

And this is just one example. How many opportunities do you turn down each day because you’re too busy to even think about changing the schedule for a second.

I get annoyed by inconvenience just as much as the next guy, but I definitely have a price, and sometimes inconvenience vastly improves my life. For instance, I’m now inconvenienced by having to come up with something fun to do for three hours and figuring out what to do with $700. Ugh, how annoying!

While everyone else has decided they couldn’t possibly stand to give up the convenience of everything going according to plan, I’m happy to sit here and write this article for you for the princely sum of $233/hour. And you get it for free; what a bargain!

I know what you’re thinking. Maybe I should have gone with the cartwheels.

Your Homework Today

Leave a comment letting me know one convenience you could give up that would actually improve your life.

Yours in inconvenience,

Update: Just as I was preparing to schedule this article, two drunk people got kicked off the flight, and I had to endure the inconvenience of flying on my original itinerary.